THIS is a pleasant, gossipy book,—full of wise saws, if not of modern instances. It may be considered one of the earliest English jest books. The wit in it is not as startling as fireworks, but there is a good deal of grave, pleasant humour, and many of those touches of nature which make the whole world kin. It is very interesting to have not only the great thoughts of great men, but to see these men in their moments of leisure, when they unbend and come down to the level of ordinary mortals. Weak stomachs cannot bear too much of a good thing, and nothing is so tiresome as the everlasting preaching of very good and very wise people. We find that even in the palmy days of Greece the greatest orators had occasionally to recall the attention of their wearied hearers by some witty and humourous tale, such as the “Shadow of the Ass,” (p. 84). ERASMUS complains of this same inattentiveness in his Praise of Folly, and says the preacher on such occasions would tell them a tale out of Gesta Romanorum, when they would “lyft vp theyr heads, stand vp, and geue good eare.” Aeterna Press
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